Thursday, December 24, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Renewable market optimistic as prices continue to stabilize
The stabilization of home prices was reflected in the average home price of $145,589, an increase of 1.5 percent compared to November 2008.
To date, 2009 home sales are at 18,771, up 10.9 percent year-over-year. Homes spent an average of 92 days on the market, down 3.2 percent from this time last year and 1.1 percent lower than October’s average.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Officials say they want four to six months to study options
Tuesday, December 15, 2009 2:37 PM
Mayor Michael B. Coleman is rescinding the city's 50 percent parking meter rate hike for as long
"He is essentially calling for a time out," Coleman's spokesman, Dan Williamson, said today,
"What the mayor is signaling here is we're open to how we raise rates."
City officials were stung by the reaction of Downtown and Short North business owners in
John Angelo of the Short North Business Association has suggested extending meters hours to
City officials will meet with an advisory panel made up of business owners and others to determine a solution.
"What the mayor would like to do is harness that energy in a positive way," Williamson said.
As of yesterday morning, an online petition circulated by the Citizens for a Collaborative Columbus Government had gathered 1,069 signatures to halt or reverse the rate increase.
That effort, spearheaded by Angelo and local restaurateur Elizabeth Lessner, is shooting for 2,000 signatures.
"Let's send a clear message to Meter Hike Mike," Angelo wrote in an e-mail today.
It appears Coleman heard the message loud and clear.
The city began raising rates at parking meters on Nov. 30. Crews will begin resetting the meters today or Wednesday, Williamson said.
Officials acknowledged last week they should have sought more input, but denied accusations that they misled people about the hike. They also said they would not rescind it.
Williamson said the city would ultimately raise rates next year.
He also said the city remains committed to providing $1.4 million though parking revenue to financially back, if needed, a Hilton hotel planned for a site across from the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
The city also plans to use money generated from the hike to replace 4,300 aging parking meters.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
If you like to see the numbers, here they are. (If the graph is too big for the screen, move the bar at the bottom to see the most current data)
This data is for the entire Central Ohio area. If you would like a report for your area of town and price range, just e-mail me. The graphs in the email will be easier to read.
If you are thinking of buying or selling a home, this is critical market information. I always provide this kind of data to my clients.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
The newest boutique hotel Downtown will be built by rehabilitating and combining two historic
The Hotel Indigo will utilize buildings at 16 and 20 E. Broad Street, immediately next to the
The 117-room Indigo Hotel will cost an estimated $26.6 million, according to the state tax
The old Hayden Building at 20 E. Broad St., a four-story Italianate-style office structure named
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Central Ohio has fared better of late because its retail sector, overbuilt in the 1980s and 1990s, went through its major culling during and after the 2001 recession, the report said. Retail employment dropped 18.1 percent from December 2000 to December 2007, according to the report.
“The return of regional retail to a more reasonable level of development suggests that retail growth in the Columbus MSA is possible once the economic recovery becomes solid,” LaFayette said.
The report was presented Tuesday as part of a retail summit hosted by Franklin County Commissioners and the chamber. The message was cautious optimism. Ohio State University economics professor Lucia Dunn said the university’s Consumer Debt Stress Index, which measures consumer concern about personal debt, has been improving. The monthly nationwide survey peaked in July, with consumers 55 percent more worried about their debt than in the baseline month of January 2006, but has fallen in every month since then and sits at 18 percent more worried after November.
“The drop in debt stress is good news,” she said. “It’s still 18 percent above 2006, but the decline is good news for all of us.”
Less concern about debt means more consumption, she said.
Steve Mansfield, senior policy and management analyst for the Franklin County Office of Management and Budget, stressed the importance of a strong retail presence to the county’s coffers, with sales tax collections accounting for more than 40 percent of the county budget. He said his office is forecasting $124.4 million in sales tax revenue for the county this year and more than $124 million in 2010.
After a massive wave of public outcry regarding the ongoing 50% rate hike to parking meters throughout the urban neighborhoods of Columbus, the city is trying to make amends. 720 new smart meter heads will start to be rolled out in May 2010, which will accept credit cards in addition to coins.
A civic working group considing of community, business, and civic leaders will oversee the implementation locations of these new credit card meters, and will be tasked with monitoring the impact of the meter rate increases.
The meter rate increases, which took effect on November 30th, have been an administrative decision by the Public Service Department, so no vote was required by City Council. Tonight, City Council is expected to vote on the creation of a holding account that will allocate $1.4 million in parking meter revenue for reserve bonds to help finance the new Convention Center Hotel.
The opening of Basil Thai restaurant in the Short North this past weekend was a moment the
But patience is a family virtue, said Rhome Ruanphae. His mother, Judy Ruanphae, opened the Thai
"She knew what the dangers were," her son said, both financially and, in that area at that time,
Mrs. Ruanphae had long considered opening another restaurant, and she and her husband, Sam,
This year, the family decided it was time. They've taken half of a former antiques shop at 1124 N. High St. and renovated the space, aiming for a sense of permanence.
"We liked the sense of a neighborhood connection in the Short North," Rhome Ruanphae said.
Although much of the space had to be gutted, the dining-room floor is the refinished original, and the sign painted on bricks at the back is from a bygone era. Local businesses did most of the changes, especially Amlin Development and Columbus Architectural Salvage.
Mrs. Ruanphae has come in from Chicago for the opening and will be running the kitchen "until we feel comfortable with what's going on," her son said.
"We are focusing on ingredients that are hard to find here in Columbus -- noodles and spices," Ruanphae said, adding that many will be brought in regularly from Chicago.
The menu is solidly Thai, although Ruanphae suggested that "there's something for everyone in Thai food." He highlighted the crispy roll appetizer ($6.95) and the noodle kee mow ($9.50). Salads start at $5, and dinner entrees rise to $15, for the pla radprick, a whole tilapia in garlic sauce.
One departure might come before long: The Ruanphaes are considering creating a Thai tapas menu.
Basil Thai's dining room can seat 52, while a room at the back holds 38 more and can be used as a party room. The long bar accommodates about a dozen.
The restaurant opens at 11:30 a.m. every day for dine-in and carryout. A dine-in lunch special of soup, appetizer and noodle or rice dish is $7.50. The kitchen closes at 9 p.m. Sunday, 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Properly preparing your walls will help you avoid a lot of paint problems in the future. Save yourself from bubbling, flaking and chipping. Take the necessary steps below to get a smooth surface ready for your new decor.
Remove Electrical Plates, Switches and Other Fixtures
Head to your electrical panel and shut off the circuit breakers to the rooms you’ll be painting. Once the power is off, remove the outlet plates and switch covers. Also remove any wall-mounted light fixtures. If you’re painting your ceiling, take down any ceiling fans, pendant lights or medallions. Once all light fixture wires are wrapped for safety, you can turn the breakers back on.
Scrape Old Wallpaper or Paint
Wallpaper. It’s best not to paint over wallpaper. New wallpaper is easy to peel off a wall. Pick a corner of wallpaper and start pulling. Use a putty knife to help loosen the paper as you peel. It’s also a good idea to use a wetting agent to help detach wallpaper and its glue. A wetting agent can be water, a water and vinegar solution or a steamer. Apply the agent with a sponge, roller or spray. Be sure you remove the wallpaper before the agent dries.
Some wallpaper, such as vinyl, doesn’t respond well to wetting agents. Sand the wallpaper with fine grit sandpaper to remove the water-resistant coating. You can also use a perforator or utility knife to cut small, shallow slits in the paper, which will help wetting agents get to the glue faster.
After the paper and glue is removed with a wide blade putty knife (or something similar), wash the walls with a cleanser and let it dry for at least a day before continuing your preparation.
Old Paint. If your walls have old paint that is chipped or peeling, you’ll want to scrape it off before you add a new coat. A broad putty knife will work best. Be careful when scraping that you don’t dig into the wall’s surface. For areas that are lightly cracked, a wire brush can be used. Ask a Lowe’s associate for the best tool for your paint problem.
If you’re also removing paint from trim, you might need to use a paint-stripping agent. Follow the manufacturer’s instruction for this project.
Repair Dinged and Dented Walls
After your walls are clear of old paint or wallpaper, you might find blemishes that need repair. Small nail holes or cracks can be easily fixed with joint compound. Larger holes require you to patch the wall. Read up on wall repair in Lowe’s How-To section.
You’ll want the smoothest surface possible before you paint. Sand trouble spots with fine grit sandpaper. Sand stubborn patches of wallpaper adhesive or areas where cracked paint was scraped. If repairs were made, you’ll need to sand the joint compound after it is completely dried.
Sanding also helps remove gloss from areas. By removing high-gloss and semi-gloss, you prep a surface to better take new coats of paint.
Clean walls with tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) and water solution. Apply this solution with a sponge or roller. Wear safety glasses and rubber gloves during this process. Rinse the walls with water after scrubbing with TSP. Allow the surfaces to dry thoroughly before applying paint.
Note: If you can take the odor, you can use ammonia instead of TSP.
It’s recommended to apply primer to the entire surface before painting. Primer helps retain your color choice. It can also solve a lot of unforeseeable problems left behind by the house’s former owners, like painting over enameled surfaces without sanding first. A primer can help the new paint adhere to the surface better.
To apply primer, use the same steps as if you were painting. Remember to tape off trim, woodwork and any other area you don’t want to paint.
If you decided to skip an entire surface primer, you’ll still need to spot prime. Apply primer to any joint compound you may have added or areas where you scraped old paint.
Now you’re ready to start painting.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
If you're in the market for a home, the world is your oyster. Interest rates are at record lows. Housing prices in many parts of the country are still depressed. And you may be eligible for a generous tax break, even if the home you buy isn't your first.
|On Nov. 6, President Obama signed legislation|
expanding a tax credit implemented this year as part of the economic stimulus
package. What changed:
|Stimulus credit||Expanded credit|
|First-time home buyer credit||$8,000||$8,000|
|Credit for current homeowners who buy a home||Not available||$6,500|
|Expiration of credit||Nov. 30||April 30, 2010*|
|Income limits||$75,000 single; $150,000 married; additional $20,000 phase-out.||$125,000 single; $225,000, married; additional $20,000|
|Limit on cost of purchased home||None||$800,000|
|* = |
1 to close; Source: National Association of Realtors.
On Nov. 6, President Obama signed legislation that provides a $6,500 tax credit for some current homeowners who buy another home. The law also extends the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers, scheduled to expire Nov. 30, until next spring.
Judging from the mail we've received, a lot of people are interested in taking advantage of this tax break. But the expanded credit also has whipped up a lot of confusion. Here are some answers to questions from readers:
Q: How do I qualify for the $6,500 credit?
A: This credit is available for home buyers who sign a binding contract on a new or existing home by April 30, 2010, and settle by July 1 (deadlines that also apply to the first-time home buyer credit). You must have lived in your existing home for five consecutive years out of the last eight. The home you purchase must be your primary residence. However, the law doesn't require you to sell your old home, says Bob Meighan, vice president at TurboTax, the tax software provider. You can use it as a second home or a rental and still claim the credit, he says.
Q: I sold a home I had lived in for more than five years and bought a new one in August. Do I qualify for a tax credit?
A: No. For existing homeowners, the $6,500 credit is limited to homes purchased after Nov. 6.
Q: Does the home I buy have to be more expensive than the one I own now?
A: No. While the real estate industry is hopeful that homeowners will use this credit to buy a nicer place, there's no prohibition against using it to downsize, Meighan says. That makes this credit particularly useful for seniors who are interested in moving into a smaller home.
If you are planning to move up, keep in mind that you can't claim the credit if the purchase price of the home exceeds $800,000. Unlike some other tax credits, this one doesn't slowly phase out once you exceed the threshold, Meighan says. If you buy a home for more than $800,000 — and that refers to the purchase price, not the assessed value or the amount of your mortgage — you are ineligible for the credit, period.
The $800,000 cap also applies to first-time home buyers, but only those who purchase a home after Nov. 6. First-time home buyers who bought a home for more than $800,000 between Jan. 1 and Nov. 6 can still claim the credit, assuming they meet the other criteria, Meighan says.
Q: I'm an existing homeowner, and would like to build a new home. Can I claim the credit?
A: Yes, but make sure your builder is good at meeting deadlines. You can claim the credit as long as you have a binding contract in place by April 30 and close by July 1. In the case of a new home, the closing date is the day you move in, Meighan says. If your home isn't habitable by June 30, you won't be able to claim the credit, he says.
Q: I bought a home in 2008 and claimed the old $7,500 first-time home buyer's credit, which must be repaid over 15 years. Did the new law change that rule?
A: No. That credit, which was available for homes purchased between April 9, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2008, must still be repaid.
The $8,000 first-time home buyer credit, available for homes purchased after Dec. 31, 2008, doesn't have to be repaid as long as you remain in the home for at least three years. Existing homeowners who qualify for the $6,500 credit don't have to repay that money, either, as long as they meet the three-year requirement.
Q: We have a rental home and would like to sell it to our son, who has never owned a home. Would he qualify for the first-time home buyer credit?
A: No. The legislation specifically prohibits taxpayers from claiming the credit if the sale is between "related parties," Meighan says. A home sale to a parent, grandparent, child or grandchild would fall into that category.
Q: I sold my home this year and have been renting since. If I buy a new home, do I qualify for the expanded credit?
A: Yes, as long as you meet all of the other requirements, says Mel Schwarz, partner with Grant Thornton in Washington, D.C. The eight-year period used to determine eligibility ends on the day you buy your new home, he says.
Sandra Block covers personal finance for USA TODAY. Her Your Money column appears Tuesdays. Click here for an index of Your Money columns.
E-mail her at: email@example.com.
Follow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sandyblock
Monday, November 23, 2009
Kasey and Shawn Conyers are no strangers to Victorian Village. They have lived in the neighborhood for more than ten years. They originally bought a home in the neighborhood several years ago that they fixed up and resold when they decided they wanted more space to raise their family. They love the walkability diversity of Victorian Village and ultimately decided to stay in the neighborhood. Their current beautiful home provides plenty of space for them and their two little boys and two dogs. It has 2900 square feet, four bedrooms and 3.5 baths. When they found the house, they feel in love with the architectural details, nice size of the rooms and layout of the floors.
The couple are only the fifth owners to live in the house. The house was lucky to survive tough times by not being divided into multiple apartments; instead a couple of families had come together at times and just shared the entire space. The last owners had done some renovating and documented everything. Which was cool to have, says Kasey, but sometimes seeing what they did - like paint beautifully dark stained trim over with white - was a little sad. They do have the original deed to their house!
Kasey and Shawn both have backgrounds in design - she runs her own business, Bliss Wedding & Event Design, and he is an architect. They have been working on the house a little at a time. When the weather got nice after they first moved in, they painted the exterior. Shawn did most of it himself, except for the third floor turret. Inside the turret is Kasey’s home office. It is a wonderful space with four windows that fill the space with light. A great place to spur creative thinking! The room also includes Shawn’s home workspace and a play area for the boys. It is a great arrangement that allows Kasey to keep her boys at home while she works.
Their goal for the house is to give it a ‘modern comfortable’ style while keeping and enhancing some of the character of the house. One of Shawn’s favorite moments about the house is the wonderful front door and its handle. The starburst on the porch is also a favorite. The house was covered in carpet by the last owners, so they are working to remove that and restore the wood floors. Some future projects include removing wallpaper, updating bathrooms and redoing the kitchen. Because the house had been sitting vacant for awhile before they purchased it, they also have a backyard full of work. But they plan on being there for quite awhile to raise their family so they look forward to making the house their own.